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The Lions pass on Justin Fields to build a team and a culture

Moments after the Chicago Bears selected Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the 11th pick of the NFL draft came a spattering of protest from some Detroit Lions fans.

How come the Lions passed on the dynamic Fields for left tackle Penei Sewell at pick seven?

I’m about to tell you why.

Detroit is a frustrated the fickle town where quarterback after quarterback has failed.

Fields would have joined a list of plenty. General Manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are not interested in splashing in the kiddie pool. They want to build an ocean.

Shiny objects without a team around them make us and cheer individual feats. But they don’t make you stand up and cheer in December and January when the playoff push and actual playoffs begin. You need a team around you in order to win, whether you are Justin Fields, Tom Brady, or John Elway.

The Lions smartly decided to build from the ground up before adding high-profile picks at quarterback and wide receiver. No matter who the Lions selected in this year’s draft, the 2021 season will be a disaster. Their goals are to make 2022 or 2023 shine. That’s when they hope to make a playoff push.

The Lions are building a culture, a foundation, and an attitude.

I never heard so many four-letter words during a draft after the Lions selected Sewell in the first round and made defensive tackles Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill second-day selections. These dudes are not only big and hungry. But they are angry.

Fields might haunt the Lions in Chicago. But he’d never haunt Chicago in Detroit. Besides, how much stock can we put into an Ohio State quarterback?

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) waits for the ball during a passing play against Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the 1st quarter of their game at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, N.J on November 16, 2019. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch] Zxpjhpyhekvwsvsqmncnu20ole

The best plan of attack to spook the rest of the league is to build a team. And build it from the ground up.

Let’s look at some of the great quarterbacks in the league.

Denver Bronco great John Elway passed for 51,475 yards, but he didn’t win Super Bowls until the end of his career when he became more game manager than a game-changer. The difference was running back. Terrell Davis ran for 1,750 yards in 1997 and 2,008 the following year as the Broncos won their first Super Bowls under Elway.

Elway hardly looked like a Hall of Fame player in beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24, completing just 11 of 22 passes for no touchdowns and one interception. But he had a team.

Tom Brady had leadership and great players around him in New England. What people missed when he moved to Tampa is the Bucs immediately upgraded their roster after signing Brady. In losing to the Bucs in the last Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes’ dreams died when he didn’t have enough offensive line depth to protect him.

Let’s examine Matthew Stafford in Detroit.

Some loved him. Others loved to ridicule him.

He passed for 45,109 yards in 12 seasons with the Lions, including 5,038 in 2011 and 4,084 in his final season in Detroit. But what did we call him? “Pad Statford.”

We call him that because he never had a defense, never had a running game, and never had a playoff victory. Never, never land does not work in the NFL.

And it does not work in Detroit.

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